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Injured officer may receive enhanced retirement plan

Woburn Police Officer Robert DeNapoli during a break in the sentencing of Antonio Matos of Boston.

JOSH REYNOLDS FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE

Woburn Police Officer Robert DeNapoli during a break in the sentencing of Antonio Matos of Boston.

A veteran Woburn police officer who was shot multiple times responding to a jewelry store robbery in 2011 would receive extra disability retirement benefits under special legislation proposed by Mayor Scott D. Galvin.

The plan, which was set to come before a City Council committee on Wednesday, provides for Robert DeNapoli, 52, to retire on disability with a pension equal to 100 percent of the pay he would have received if he remained a police officer — including any union-negotiated raises — until the age of 65. His pension would then be set at 80 percent of the three-year average of his annual rate of compensation at that time.

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Under state law, an employee who retires with a disability is compensated for life at a rate of 72 percent of his or her regular pay rate.

The plan also exempts DeNapoli’s disability payments from the state law that limits how much additional income someone who retired on a disability can earn without seeing their pension decreased.

“It’s a very generous package,” Galvin said. “My job is to make sure we make him whole, that we treat [DeNapoli] as if he were still a police officer until he is 65, which we have an obligation to do.”

‘I felt it was the right thing to do for him.’

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Among its other provisions, the special act calls for all sums paid by DeNapoli into the retirement system — about $86,000 — to be returned to him in a lump sum. Generally, such a payment is only provided as a death benefit to a surviving spouse, Galvin said.

The act also provides that upon his death, DeNapoli’s spouse if surviving would receive monthly payments equal to three-fourths of his annualized pension, rather than the two-thirds the law requires.

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In addition, it calls for the city to fund the cost of any medical expenses that DeNapoli incurs because of his injuries that are not covered by his insurance.

According to Galvin, the benefits package falls short of what DeNapoli is seeking, which would provide him a disability retirement pension equal to 100 percent of his pay for life. But Galvin said he believed the package is “fair based on the totality of the benefits being offered.”

Galvin said the added benefits would cost the city about $1.1 million, which he said would be funded through an addition of approximately $50,000 to the retirement budget each year.

“I felt it was the right thing to do for him, particularly for those years, which is my greatest concern for him: 52 to 65. We had an obligation to make him whole and that’s what this legislation does.”

DeNapoli, then a 16-year Woburn Police veteran, was seriously injured in the Sept. 6, 2011, incident, when he was shot multiple times at close range by a robber fleeing an armed holdup of the Musto Jewelers on Cambridge Road. DeNapoli, who had been the first responding officer, lost the tip of his index finger and is now blind in his left eye.

Antonio Matos, who prosecutors say shot Napoli, recently pleaded guilty in Middlesex Superior Court to charges in connection with the 2011 incident, including masked armed robbery and armed assault with intent to murder. He received a sentence of 25 to 30 years in prison. Three accomplices also pleaded guilty.

In a letter to the City Council, Galvin said that DeNapoli, who has been on disability leave and has continued to receive his full salary, currently $64,901 per year — on a tax-free basis as the law requires. He also noted that the city had obtained a $125,240 insurance settlement for DeNapoli because of his injuries.

Galvin wrote that prior to developing the proposed retirement package, he had “expressed to Officer DeNapoli my wish that he remain with the Woburn Police Department, and specifically told him that his experience would make him an ideal candidate for the position of resource officer at one of the Middle Schools.” According to Galvin, DeNapoli declined the offer.

Police Chief Robert J. Ferullo Jr. said that should DeNapoli have been able to pass the physical exam required for returning to the department, “I think he would have gladly come back” and “we would have had a position available to him.”

DeNapoli could not be reached for comment. But interviewed by the Globe after the recent court hearing for Matos, he spoke of the difficulty of realizing he could not return to being a police officer.

“That’s the toughest part, because I haven’t worked,” he said. “I’m a guy that likes to work.”

“The scars, they’ll be there forever,” he said. “I’m just not the same person I was when I was a police officer.”

City Council president Paul Denaro said prior to Wednesday’s meeting that he supported the proposed benefits package and believed it would receive the council’s backing.

“I feel it’s a very rich package and I believe it shows the city is completely in support of his service to us,” he said.

Alderman at large Richard M. Haggerty said he also backed the plan.

“I think Bobby is a hero and he’s going to get a great package,” he said. “We are going to take care of him as we should. Bobby has been through a great deal and the citizens of Woburn are behind him 100 percent.”

John Laidler can be reached at laidler@globe.com.

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